Buying a Magic Circle Pilates Ring

Woman standing on yoga mat using Pilates Magic Circle

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The magic circle is a Pilates tool created by founder Joseph Pilates that's intended to help practitioners find their center. It's also referred to as a fitness circle, exercise ring, Pilates ring, or fitness ring, but "magic circle" is the preferred name within Pilates. It is said that Joseph Pilates made the first magic circle from the ring typically used around a keg. 

The circle is intended as a secondary prop and all Pilates mat exercises can be done without a magic circle. But since they're lightweight and inexpensive, and have a variety of purposes within a Pilates practice, rings have become popular props for use at home and in the studio.

Pilates Exercises With the Magic Circle

A magic circle can provide resistance and promote good form in a variety of mat and standing Pilates exercises. It offers muscular feedback and gentle-to-moderate resistance during the Pilates movement. It is not intended to provide a heavy strength workout.

Exercises in which the magic circle can be used to strengthen and tone your upper body include:

  • Low diagonal ring
  • Middle ring
  • High diagonal ring
  • Halo ring
  • Pilates ring biceps
  • Pilates ring side press

If you want to strengthen your lower body, these exercises can be performed with the magic circle:

Magic circles are perfect for travel. They don't weigh much, they lay flat, and they take up very little space in your luggage.

Features to Look for in a Magic Circle

The best place to start when buying a magic circle is by asking your Pilates instructor what they recommend, or testing one that your studio has available. If you do decide to buy one to use at home, it may be worth getting it at a shop where you can test it out and get a feel for it first.

Materials and Resistance

The Pilates magic circle can be made of flexible metal, composite, or fiberglass that is covered by plastic, foam, rubber, or some type of molded padding. If your purpose is mild resistance, a rubber ring could be perfect. If you are looking for an exercise ring that will stand up to a lot of use (for example, studio use), you might want a ring made of metal (steel).


Pads were originally placed only on the outside of the circle. Now, they are on the inside of the ring as well and sometimes referred to as handles. This makes the equipment more versatile and easier to use when doing certain exercises.

An exercise like the rainbow, for example, where you stabilize the ring with pressure on the inside, is much easier with pads. When doing halo rings, having the padding on both sides of the magic circle makes it more comfortable to hold.


The magic circle comes in different sizes, generally ranging between 12 inches and 15 inches in diameter. Try each size at a Pilates studio or buy from a retailer that allows you to try a ring and exchange it for a different size if needed. Magic circle manufacturers may also provide a guide to help you select the right one.

Frequently Asked Questions

What muscles does a Pilates ring use?

You can work muscles in various areas of the body with the magic ring, depending on which Pilates exercises you do. For instance, the middle ring exercise helps strengthen your shoulders and arms while the standing leg press works your inner thighs. Pilates exercises as a whole are known for building a strong core.

Can I make my own Pilates ring?

While you may potentially be able make your own Pilates ring, making sure it is the right size and weight, is bendable but not breakable, and has the right size grips in the right places may be a bit difficult. Therefore, it may be easier to purchase one instead.

If you don't have access to a magic ring, you can use other props, such as resistance bands and yoga straps, in certain Pilates exercises to add resistance. Even pillows can provide something to squeeze while working your muscles during Pilates movements.

What size Pilates ring should I buy?

Rings around 14 inches are common. However, smaller Pilates practitioners may find the smaller circles more comfortable. You may also find that different sizes work better for different Pilates exercises. Try a few out and see how they feel.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Neville P. Pilates props – A new dimension to your Pilates class. National Council for Exercise & Fitness: National Fitness E-News. 2013;2(2):18-19.

  3. Joyce A, Kotler D. Core training in low back disorders: role of the Pilates method. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2017;16(3):156-161. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000365

By Marguerite Ogle MS, RYT
Marguerite Ogle is a freelance writer and experienced natural wellness and life coach, who has been teaching Pilates for more than 35 years.